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Temples, gardens and archaeoligical sites

Hiraizumi


2 600

hours walk

16H

By plane from Marseille

Map

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Presentation

The Japanese village of Hiraizumi is famous for its beautiful temples and gardens which
have been included in the UNESCO list of places to be protected and in the waiting list of sites to be
included in the world heritage. Hiraizumi has marked the 11th and 12th of the country as the
administrative and political center of the northern kingdom, which rivaled the city of Kyoto in its political
and commercial influence. Nevertheless, the city lost its political and administrative status because of the
Genpei war in 1189 and a large part of the city was destroyed. The village is constituted and grouped of
five protected sites: Chûson-ji, Môtsû-ji, Kanjizaiô-in Ato, Muryôko-in, and the mount Kinkeisan; as
well as four big gardens associated with temples, built by the Ôshû Fujiwara family, 3 of which are
oriented towards the mount Kinkeisan.

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Outstanding interests

The sites were built in order to gratify the dominant ideology of Japan in the 8th
century: Buddhism. Thus, this place is considered sacred because it represents the Pure Land of Buddha,
the land where every soul arrives after the passage of death. The place is associated with the concept of
paradise with a strong presence of an idealized nature. The association of gardens, water and vegetation
reinforces this idea of paradise on earth. This results in a real interesting work on the aesthetics of the
temples, the pleasant environment and the beauty of the landscape. Moreover, it is notable that the place
has a very particular atmosphere, which is loaded with history and is a source of inspiration for artists.

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Why it was decided to be protected

UNESCO decided to protect this site because they met two specific criteria that caught the attention of the organization's members. On the one hand, the gardens of Hiraizumi have become a reference because they have inspired many gardens in other cities in Japan. What caught UNESCO's attention was the fact that the model of garden design, which originated in Buddhism and ancient Japanese religions (Shintoism), has survived and spread throughout the world. Gardens have fulfilled the conditions of sharing cultural spaces. In the same idea of cultural sharing, it is a symbolic place for Buddhist religion and nature worship. The UNESCO has appreciated the gathering of people from all over the world in which the place is involved and therefore decided to protect this place

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Unesco Impact

Following the war, the gardens had been buried under the ground and the buildings had been damaged. UNESCO invested in the reconstruction of two of the gardens and the renovation of the four temples. However, the local prefecture prohibited the construction of new buildings to preserve the energy of the place and the structure of the landscape, thus limiting UNESCO's interventions. Since then, protection solutions have been adopted, notably with a global preservation and management plan in 2007 which allowed the creation of a preservation promotion council. This allowed the arrival of experts in archaeology, who contributed to the renovation of the temples and who could help restore the remaining gardens if they are recognized as world heritage.

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